Families that don’t benefit from Paid Family Leave in the United States lose over $20 billion annually.
The Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 Report, conducted by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC), found that 34.2 million Americans provided unpaid care for an adult aged 50 or older. Those who are forced to leave their jobs in absence of Family Paid Leave report a loss of at least $300,000 in wages and/or pensions.
For this reason, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) continues to support and advocate for policies that guarantee economic security for the Latino population, particularly among older adults and their caregivers.
Such is the case of the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). This is a comprehensive national program that would help meet the needs of new mothers and fathers, as well as people with serious personal or family health issues.
Even though the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was successfully implemented 24 years ago, and Washington, D.C. recently approved a Paid Family Leave initiative, the struggle for low income families and workers continues.
According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, only 13% of U.S. workers receive benefits from paid leave to care for their families, and less than 40% have access to medical leave through a short-term disability insurance.
“The public policies of our nation are not addressing the real needs of workers and their families. The FMLA covers less than 50% of the population, and for many of them, it is a luxury to use it,” said Dr. Yanira Cruz, president and CEO of NHCOA.
NHCOA strongly believes that the care of older adults should be a priority for the new administration. Four out of 10 Hispanics are forced to reduce their working hours or to abandon their jobs to tend to emergencies in their family, and neither they nor the country can afford this loss.
NHCOA calls on Congress to support Paid Leave as a policy that would strengthen families and the future of our nation.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.